The 2016 Mazda Road To Indy presented by Cooper Tire season officially came to a close on Monday night as drivers, teams, family and sponsors from all three steps of the ladder gathered at the Montery Plaza Hotel for their season ending banquet where $2.3 million in prizes were distributed
Included in that total was $1,964,700 in Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarships that were distributed to the three season-long champions.
“Mazda is honored to continue with the Mazda Road to Indy. Each year, we see a new crop of talent come through and at the end of the day there can only be one winner in each series, and we saw three terrific drivers crowned this evening,” said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations. “Our intention is to give drivers a clear path, and nothing like this exists anywhere else in the world. We are very proud of that and we hope to continue to see drivers go to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 with the Mazda Road to Indy as their path. Just yesterday, someone asked me if Mazda would go to the Indianapolis 500 and I said – we already do.” (TSO note: 23 of the 33 starters in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 have Indy Lights experience).
Anthony Martin winner of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda title took home $363,000. The 21-year old Australian will also receive original artwork by Jim Swintal that was commissioned by Cooper Tire.
“It’s such a big accomplishment and it’s going to take some time to sink in. I just won the USF2000 championship in America, against some very talented drivers, so for me, my family, my friends and all my supporters, I couldn’t be happier,” beamed Martin. “Facebook and Twitter has just gone through the roof! I just can’t believe it. We’ll take a few days’ rest and then get straight back into it. We’ll do some testing and push hard toward next year in the Pro Mazda car. I’m looking forward to working with Mazda and Cooper Tires and I know it will be a great year.”
Aaron Telitz, took home the $601,700 Mazda scholarship for winning the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire title. Added to that total is $7,500 for winning the BBS Rookie of The Year, and Cooper Tire commissioned artwork by Jim Swintal.
“It’s slowly sinking in that I’m going to get to drive an Indy Lights car in 2017. I’m trying to take it slow, celebrating now with friends and family, but then I’ll go home and get to work on next season,” said Telitz, who won his second Mazda Advancement Scholarship. “It’s incredible, to be down as I was in the championship and to come back and win. It will take me some time to process how I did that or to put it in to words. Mazda and Cooper Tires do so much for the series. If you win, you have a chance to move on. That’s how I started my racing career and that’s how it is going to continue. I’m really excited for the future.”
The biggest winner of the night was Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire title winner Ed Jones, who along with his $1,000,000 Mazda scholarship guaranteeing him entry to at least three Verizon IndyCar Series races, including the Indianapolis 500, took home: the $25,000 Cosworth Champion’s Cash Award, the $25,000 Dallara Champion’s Parts Credit and original artwork by Jim Swintal, that was commissioned by Cooper Tire.
“It’s still sinking in. Yesterday was an amazing achievement by the whole Carlin team,” exclaimed Jones. “The realization is really just coming through that I’ll be in the Indianapolis 500 next year. I’ll enjoy this during this week but then we’ll start working on getting the deal sorted, trying to get a full ride as well. I can’t thank Mazda and Cooper enough for what they’ve done for drivers like myself, to have the opportunity to be in IndyCar – there’s no other ladder system like this in the world. I can’t wait to get back into an Indy car, to get up to speed properly. We’ve been speaking with teams so hopefully we can sort something out soon. But for now, I’ll enjoy what we’ve accomplished in 2016.”
The complete list of all of the award is at the bottom of this post.
Also announced at the banquet were the newest inductees into Mazda Road To Indy presented by Cooper Tire Hall of Fame. Enshrined this year are:
- U.E. “Pat” Patrick, and Roger Bailey who founded the forerunner to Indy Lights, the American Racing Series in 1986
- Former MRTI drivers Chuck West, Peter Dempsey, Tonis Kasemets, and Spencer Pigot.
Dan Anderson, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions also made a few other announcements at the banquet.
- The 2017 Mazda Road To Indy presented by Cooper Tire schedule will be released tomorrow (Wednesday, September 14, 2016).
- The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire championship winner in 2017 will receive a scholarship and other prizes valued at $800,000.
It’s not only the drivers that benefit from the Mazda’s generosity during the “Soul Red Finale” weekend.
On Thursday afternoon, before on-track activity began a group of 20 MRTI and MRT24 drivers took the opportunity to tour the Monterey County SPCA, who’s facility is located directly across Highway 68 from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The ten year relationship between the shelter and manufacturer has resulted in Mazda Motorsports providing over $100,000 in monetary support for the animal welfare organization. The relationship between the two organizations also doesn’t end there, as both organizations help co-promote each other and their events.
I (Steve) was lucky enough to attend this event and it was great to see a very different side of the drivers.
For the second year in a row, during the Sunday lunch break, one of my very favorite moments of 2015 at any race track was duplicated
Mazda Motorsports invited three wounded veterans for a weekend at the track on the manufacturer, and these heroes had no idea that their lives were about to change.
Army Specialist Alberto Diaz, who was wounded in an IED attack in Afghanistan, and Lance Corporal Arturo Weber, who has had surgery over 80 times after being wounded in Iraq were both given keys to two Mazda CX-9’s. The pair of Mazda’s largest crossovers were parked on pit road and the two veterans were told that only one of the CX-9’s would start, however, when the keys were turned, both vehicles started.
It was a stirring moment that brought tears to the eyes of the veterans, families and the large group of gathered on-lookers, that included all of the drivers competing in the five different series.
However, the giving was not finished, as Mazda and Building Homes For Heroes had one more surprise.
Sergeant Mitchell Melott, who lost his left leg to an IED in Iraq was also presented with a set of key. This time, the keys didn’t fit a Mazda, but were for the front door of Melott’s new mortgage free home.
Truly an amazing weekend of giving by Mazda.
Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires Award Winners:
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
- Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Champion ($1 million scholarship) – Ed Jones, Carlin
- Second place ($75,000) – Santi Urrutia, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian
- Third place ($50,000) – Kyle Kaiser, Juncos Racing
- Fourth place ($25,000) – Zach Veach, Belardi Auto Racing
- Fifth place ($10,000) – Dean Stoneman, Andretti Autosport
- Indy Lights Rookie of the Year Award ($15,000) – Santi Urrutia, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian
- Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000) – Zachary Claman De Melo, Juncos Racing
- Indy Lights Team Championship ($15,000, plus $5,000 from SSTube) – Carlin
- Indy Lights INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Tom Edwards, Carlin
- Hi-Tide Boat Lifts Kids On Track Spirit Award ($5,000) – Zach Veach, Belardi Auto Racing
- Royal Purple “Slickest Pass” Award ($5,000) – Felix Serralles, Carlin
- Dallara Bent Pushrod Award ($2,000) – Carlin
- Jostens Indy Lights Champion’s Ring – Ed Jones, Carlin
- Freedom 100 Champion’s Ring – Dean Stoneman, Andretti Autosport
- Mazda Road to Indy Rings (drivers contesting all three levels) – Neil Alberico, Garett Grist, Dalton Kellett
- American Racing Winning Driver Team Owner Trophy (set of street wheels) – Trevor Carlin
- Cosworth Champion’s Cash Award ($25,000) – Ed Jones, Carlin
- Dallara Champion’s Parts Credit ($25,000) – Ed Jones, Carlin
- Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Ed Jones, Carlin
Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires
- Pro Mazda Champion ($601,700 scholarship) – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
- Second place ($25,000) – Pato O’Ward, Team Pelfrey
- Third place ($12,500) – Nico Jamin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Fourth place ($7,500) – Will Owen, Juncos Racing
- Fifth place ($5,000) – Nicolas Dapero, Juncos Racing
- BBS Rookie of the Year ($7,500) – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
- Pro Mazda National Class Champion – Bobby Eberle, JDC MotorSports
- Pro Mazda Team Championship ($7,500) – Team Pelfrey
- Pro Mazda INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Joe Haynes, Team Pelfrey
- Hi-Tide Boat Lifts Kids On Track Spirit Award ($5,000) – Nico Jamin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Royal Purple “Slickest Pass” Award ($5,000) – Will Owen, Juncos Racing
- Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award – Team Pelfrey
- Quarter Master Hard Charger Award ($1,000) – Will Owen, Juncos Racing
- Jostens Pro Mazda Champion’s Ring – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
- PFC Pro Mazda Team Award ($1,000 product certificate) – Team Pelfrey
- Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda
- USF2000 Champion ($363,850 scholarship) – Anthony Martin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Second place ($10,000) – Parker Thompson, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Third place ($5,000) – Victor Franzoni, ArmsUp Motorsports
- Fourth place ($3,000) – Jordan Lloyd, Pabst Racing
- Fifth place ($2,000) – Luke Gabin, JAY Motorsports
- Rookie of the Year ($1,500) – Robert Megennis, Team Pelfrey
- USF2000 National Class Champion – Eric Filgueiras, Spencer Racing
- USF2000 Team Championship ($4,000) – Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- USF2000 INDYCAR Mechanic of the Year ($1,000) – Jake Strack, ArmsUp Motorsports
- Hi-Tide Boat Lifts Kids On Track Spirit Award ($5,000) – Victor Franzoni, ArmsUp Motorsports
- Royal Purple “Slickest Pass” Award ($5,000) – Parker Thompson, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Carl Haas Auto Golden Wishbone Award – Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Tilton Hard Charger Award ($1,000 product certificate) – Robert Megennis, Team Pelfrey
- Jostens USF2000 Champion’s Ring – Anthony Martin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- PFC USF2000 Team Award ($1,000 product certificate) – Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing
- Original artwork by Jim Swintal – Anthony Martin, Cape Motorsports w/ Wayne Taylor Racing